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Why Research?

OSU is one of only two land, sea, space, and sun grant research institutions in the United States. OSU researchers are leaders in a variety of fields. The social impact of OSU's research is significant.

What is undergraduate research?

What are the benefits of research?

Finding your niche

Vice President for Research Rick Spinrad's Article about the Importance of Undergraduate Research


What is Undergraduate Research?

An inquiry or investigation conducted by an undergraduate student that makes an original, intellectual, or creative contribution to the discipline...”(from the Council on Undergraduate Research)

"Research" at OSU is interpreted broadly to reflect what goes on not only in laboratories and field stations, but also in libraries, art studios, and music practice rooms. Undergraduates are a part of OSU's exciting community of discovery, creativity, and innovation from all academic disciplines within the University. Undergraduate research enhances the student learning experience and expands the intellectual vitality of Oregon State University.  Undergraduate researchers tackle important, real-world questions ranging from how to improve K-12 education to improving disease prevention, from enhancing the livability of rural communities to understanding and protecting the environment.

Undergraduate research requires an educational collaboration between students and faculty members. Research experiences may be initiated by students who seek out faculty supervision for their projects or by faculty members who involve undergraduate students in their research teams.

Research can culminate in a written or oral presentation as a means of making the body of academic knowledge or creative exploration accessible to other investigators in the field, as well as to the general public.

Hundreds of opportunities exist for students to become actively involved in the scholarly pursuits of the faculty and to take part in a compelling learning experience. This kind of involvement provides insight into the creation of knowledge that is often not a part of classroom learning. It gives the student a hands-on opportunity to apply what they have been learning in the classroom, as well as to develop a mentoring relationship with a faculty member.


What are the Benefits of Research?

Participation in undergraduate research benefits students educationally, professionally, and personally.

Undergraduate Research at Oregon State University: (from the Council of Undergraduate Research)

  • Engages and empowers students in hands-on learning
  • Enhances the student learning experience through mentoring relationships with faculty
  • Increases retention in the STEM disciplines & other fields
  • Provides effective career preparation & promotes interest in graduate education
  • Develops critical thinking, creativity, problem solving, self confidence, and intellectual independence
  • Promotes an innovation-oriented culture

Educational benefits include:

  • Working closely with a faculty mentor
  • Learning about issues, methods, and leaders in students' chosen fields
  • Applying concepts learned in coursework to "real life" situations
  • Sharpening problem-solving skills 
  • Learning to read primary literature

 Professional benefits include:

  • Exploring and preparing for future careers
  • Developing marketable skills
  • Enhancing professional communication skills
  • Collaborating with others and working effectively as part of a team

Personal benefits include:

  • Growing as a critical, analytical, and independent thinker
  • Meeting challenges and demonstrating the ability to complete a project
  • Discovering personal interests
  • Developing internal standards of excellence


Finding Your Niche

Though it is beneficial to do research focusing solely in your area of study, it is important to recognize the benefits of participating in an interdisciplinary programs. Different departments often need students from an array of fields to assist in a given research opportunity.   

For example, in doing pharmaceutical research, students with skills in chemistry, biology, chemical engineering, and biochemistry may be needed to assist in advancing the project.   

Another venue to consider is research institutions such as Hatfield Marine Science Center.  Hatfield is looking for students from Oceanic and Atmospheric Science, Fisheries and Wildlife, Microbiology, Zoology, and Biology.  

We encourage you to consider the diverse opportunities offered through OSU, as well as other universities throughout the nation, and the world. 

If you have questions, or are curious about what research opportunities are availble to you, speak with a professor in your department.  They can give you guidance to programs that may be appropriate to your interests.


Rick Spinrad: How Do You Know That?

Rick Spinrad is the Vice President for Research at OSU.  His article "How Do You Know That?" draws upon his own experiences to underscore the importance of undergraduate research.  Undergraduate research exposes students to valuable real life experiences in their field and enhances classroom learning.

Read Full Rick Spinrad Article